50 Days to 50 Years: Day 20, Prayer for the World

12 07 2016

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

13697044_10209524773979271_2570261483774681591_n

Found this in a friend’s feed, and it is so powerful. From America to Israel to France, the world has not been a stable, safe or happy place. I do not have words, but I do have prayers; and prayer is what will fuel sound action and proper change. Gandhi knew, many others need to learn; perhaps these times are part of the object lesson.

Advertisements




Black History Month 2015: Zora Neale Hurston

5 02 2015

zora-neale-hurston

“It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either
at the bottom, top, or in between. We will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora is one of my favorite writers. Her language is beautiful, uplifting, elegant, and scarcely seen in modern literature. Literacy across the board is becoming a thing of the distant past, much to the detriment of of our people.

I explore this a bit more over at Communities Digital News, Black History Month 2015: Let’s promote a return to literacy:

“Sadly, the richness of literacy exhibited by her and her contemporaries—like Langston Hughes, who would have been 113 this week—is sorely lacking in today’s literature. Do our young people even know the names of these and other great writers, or the titles of their works? If the crisis in our culture is any indication, we are failing our children by starving them of the substantive words and sweeping vision of great writers while spoon-feeding them the steady pabulum of gangster rap and reality television.”

Read more here.





In My Orbit…

9 05 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So The Girl has been vacating and marinating under the Central Coast skies, joining hubby in his geek pursuit of Military Radio collection, and visiting with his family. All-in-all, a nice little respite, where I got more sleep than I have in several months now–so it’s all good.

Time Passages

Now it’s back to life’s realities, and one of those is dealing with death. A few weeks back for In My Orbit, I paid tribute to Jack Gilbert and my cousin Ricky. Jack Gilbert’s memorial service is this Saturday, and it will be fitting to be part of a more public tribute to such a good man.

When you get to my age, you start marking time by these passages, and two more have made me reflective: Maurice Sendak, and Digby Wolfe.

Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where The Wild Things Are, In The Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There, died yesterday at the age of 83.  I loved Sendak’s work–it spoke to me as an introspective, bookish child, and the illustrations inspired me as a young artist. My first college major was commercial art with an emphasis in illustration; but I found I was much better at painting with words.

His books, along with Florence Parry Heide and Edward Gorey’s The Shrinking of Treehorn, and Julian Scheer’s Rain Makes Applesauce were part of the formative alchemy of who The Girl is today. Had I had children, I would have read his books to them too, passing on these shaping works to another generation.

I had the privilege of taking a class with Digby Wolfe in his last year of teaching at the University of Southern California, and went on to do one semester of focused study under his tutelage.

Digby Wolfe was one of the creators of Laugh-In, and his wit was just as sharp and fun 30-years in, as it was when he wrote the show in the 60s. He also had a depth of insight about character, and writer motivations which helped to make me more conscious and more directed in my own writing. Digby died of lung cancer on May 2, at the age of 82.

It was interesting that as a successful Renaissance man (he was an actor and singer as well) he spent the balance of his life as an academic, albeit a non-traditional one. He taught in the Watts Writer’s Workshop, then at USC, before he left Los Angeles for the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.  The obit in the Los Angeles Times said it best:

“‘He wasn’t an academic in any traditional sense,” Jim Linnell, dean of fine arts, said with a laugh. “He was a provocateur and a satirist. Having Digby in an academic program kept things lively, challenging and constantly pushing the boundaries of getting work done.'”

As a writer, I was blessed to have that support and influence, even for a brief time.

Chain of Fools

So I was fortunate to miss the Occupy LA/Immigrant Rights protest on May Day. While this local counterpart managed to remain low-key (what a shock), their brother organizations in Seattle and Cleveland did not fare so well. Downtown Seattle saw millions of dollars in commercial and personal property damage, and 25 arrests. But Cleveland takes the cake.

Five OWS Cleveland protestors plotted, then attempted, to blow up the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, 15-miles outside of downtown Cleveland. The smooth criminals rigged explosives that they thought were packed with C-4 at the base of the bridge, and tried to detonate them using a text-message code.

Of course, when you announce such an intention to a G-Man, you are bound to fail. Apparently an undercover FBI agent had infiltrated their pack and managed to thwart the plot by supplying phony explosives, and then calling in the posse. Good times!

OWS Cleveland’s official word is that they do recall these guys at their events, but they do not support bombing bridges. One of the suspects actually signed the lease to property where the OWS Cleveland protestors camp; so I think guilt by association can be proven here. What surprises me is the light press this continues to receive.

Now, had this been a right-wing group, or people who claimed to be a part of the Tea Party? It would be the Trayvon Martin news cycle all over again.

Rich Lowry calls it like he sees it, in an opinion piece in the New York Post; give it a read, if only to get the other viewpoint on these protests and the type of people it attracts.

Clowns to the Left of Me

From my house, that’s the direction toward Downtown L.A., where our idiot City Council wages war against sanity, commerce, and anyone finding or keeping a job in Los Angeles.

Their latest campaign involves banning single use plastic bags in an attempt to supposedly reduce litter. The law of unintended consequences comes into play here. According to the Los Angeles Times, Crown Poly, one major manufacturer of plastic bags, estimates they may have to lay off 20 to 130 employees because of this action. With unemployment numbers in Los Angeles city in the 10-11 percent range, you would think they would take pause at this action. But “think” and “Los Angeles City Council” are often mutually exclusive.

One of the useful idiots, Councilman Paul Koretz, compared the company to makers of horse-drawn carriages who were phased out with the introduction of the automobile.

“‘I’m the last one to allow for layoffs in L.A. city, and I fight them hard,’ he said. ‘But I’ve never stood and said that if a job doesn’t make sense anymore, that we’ve got to keep that job.'”

Who says it doesn’t make sense? The majority of these bags are made from recycled material–heck, some of the grocery stores have recycle kiosks for unused bags, along with other things recyclable.  How many people are employed in this enterprise? I know a few, and their jobs are on the chopping block too.

I’m all for environmental awareness, but like what they did in the San Joaquin Valley to save a Delta smelt, this smacks of foolishness that will further cripple the city and the State.





In My Orbit…

16 04 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s been so much floating in my universe, that it has been hard to know where to begin to write. Of course, that results in not writing about anything, which is no solution either. So I have decided to begin categorizing all of my happenings under certain headings within “In My Orbit” (borrowing shamelessly from Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors). It gives me an excuse to write more, and not feel torn about what to include and/or exclude.

Life

“We have no control over when or how we die, but we do have control over how we live.” — from Fried Chicken and Sympathy

My world has recently been impacted by the death of two dear people: a wonderful man named Jack Gilbert, and my cousin, Ricky Morgan.

Jack Gilbert, 2011

They say dogs know a good person, and dogs and cats loved Jack. Captured by his good friend and mine, Sarah Lucy Beach.

I met Jack Gilbert through Premise, an entertainment industry prayer fellowship. He was one of its leaders, both in role, and in example. I left Premise for a time, and it was due to Jack’s encouragement that I chose to return. Jack shaped lives through his deep commitment to Jesus Christ, and his teaching of screenplay writing at places like Warner Bros., Act One, Azusa Pacific University, and Columbia College Hollywood, among others. But he impacted through his quiet presence, his wisdom, and his delight of the arts, literature, and especially Casablanca! He delighted in bringing people together, whether it was a prayer group, writer’s group, book salon, or a movie. Jack was a great listener, a solid mentor, and from my relationships with others who were his friends, an excellent person. He embodied a life well lived, and his passing has left a huge void not only in the entertainment world, but many lives.

I didn’t know him half as well as others did, but he left a great impression by the weight of his presence and his life. Jack was always a man of grace, nobility, and gentle strength. What I would describe as “Meekness”. Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jack did inherit the earth, not through a powerhouse position or personality, but by just being, Jack. Now, he has received his ultimate inheritance! It’s bittersweet. He is in Heaven, which is awesome for Him, but the world has lost a tremendous presence and talent. But like all who leave a legacy of righteousness, their work and worth continues, long after they have left this earth. I know that will be the case with Jack.

His close friends and family held a private funeral service, but because of the wealth of his life through his investment in people and the community, there will be a more public memorial in May, that I plan to attend. The older I get, the more deaths I face, the greater importance I place on honoring those who have passed on.

My cousin Ricky died suddenly on Good Friday, and it broke my heart. He was a favorite, and more like another brother than a cousin. Ricky lived with us for a time when I was younger, and he and my brother Theodore were constant companions and running buddies. I probably heard more than a six-year-old should hear about the misadventures of young adult men, but I enjoyed being the mascot. Unlike my sisters, Theodore and Ricky liked my company, and they treated me like a person, rather than a kid who was underfoot.

Mike (left), Aunt Allene (middle), and Ricky at the Foxx Family Reunion, 2005. R.I.P. my cousin.

Ricky was hilarious. He had a sharp wit, a great laugh, and a radiant smile that charmed everyone. Ricky, his mother (my aunt) Allene, and his brother Mike moved on to Northern California, and his absence left a huge hole in my young life. When I moved to California in my adult years, I was able to reconnect with him. He had since moved to Southern California, and with my sister June and her daughter Gabi, we went to visit him and his then-wife. I was writing Fried Chicken and Sympathy during that time, and he was able to share stories, give insight, and piece together some family history that had been missing.

The last time I saw him was at our Foxx Family Reunion in 2005. He looked rested and happy, was his usual chipper and hilarious self, warm, welcoming and loving, as always.  I still cannot believe he is gone, and it is still up in the air about whether there will be a service or memorial where the rest of the family and friends can mourn his loss.

Whether that happens or not, Ricky knew Jesus too, so I will see him again in Heaven, where we can laugh together.

I am thankful for the personal impact of both these men, and that through their death, as well as in their life, they continue to instruct. As Psalm 90:12 states, “So teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I am more attuned to counting the cost of my life.

The Universe

Part of the counting of my days is my work with job seekers and career transitioners. One of the ways I do this is my participation (and sometimes chairmanship) of CareerCamp events in Southern California.

CareerCampLA is coming up this Friday, April 20 from 9 am to 12 pm, at Los Angeles Southwest College, 1600 West Imperial Highway, Los Angeles, CA 90044.  Do I need to say it is well worth your time? Trust me, it is.

The day is geared toward “Building the Career That You Deserve” through workshops, seminars and breakout sessions. The agenda is set by the attendees, so you get your most burning questions answered. CareerCamp is a positive event focused on you and your needs in developing your career.

What I love about CareerCamp is that it’s NOT a job fair, but a workshop designed to hone your skills and give you the information you need to make the next step in your career. That next step may be starting your own business, or changing careers–it’s less about enabling and more about empowerment. If you want to be empowered to make the changes necessary to discover your career direction and life’s passion, then register here.

Everything

My world has been transformed by Yoga, and now I am able to lead others through its transformative work. I teach classes at CorePower Yoga in Sherman Oaks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I also teach a Soul Flow class in Northridge on Thursday nights. The Monday 12:00 pm class, and the Soul Flow class are only $10–you can’t get out of Starbucks that cheaply, and its positive effects are better and last longer!

Like the CareerCamps, it is a privilege to help others on a journey of discovery that moves someone closer to their authentic self, and offer inspiration that helps them get a better handle on their purpose in life.

Speaking of that… time to rocket off to CorePower for my Monday classes. Hope to see you around my universe.

 





Black Heritage Month: Week 2–Black Genocide

16 02 2012

I recently read an article in Religion Dispatches by Sikivu Hutchinson titled “God’s Body, God’s Plan: The Komen Furor and Abortion as Black/Latino ‘Genocide'”. An interesting, and well-written read, though I thorougly disagree with everything she posits.

Ms. Hutchinson holds to the argument that a woman’s “right” to do with her body what she wishes should be wholesale protected by the government. It’s part of “reproductive justice” and that blanket term: “family planning”. She holds the belief that the ills suffered by women and children of color are because these services are not readily available and protected, and that the pro-life lobby and its work to eradicate abortion is part of the work to maintain a racist power structure. Huh?

Specifically in her cross-hairs is a group called The International Coalition of Color for Life, founded by Eve Sanchez Silver. Ms. Hutchinson first minimizes Ms. Sanchez Silver, a Latina, with the throwaway description of her background: “a former medical research analyst for and charter member of the Komen Foundation, has been a leading advocate against Planned Parenthood within Komen.”

In fact, Ms. Sanchez Silver is more than that–she has a very impressive background in science and research. You can read her bio and find out for yourself. She also resigned from Komen after they chose to develop a relationship with Planned Parenthood;  so the “within Komen” statement is misleading, if not false.

In typical liberal fashion, Ms. Hutchinson cherry picks and uses the most stark images and statements from the website to build a straw man argument against the notion that abortion is being used as a form of Black Genocide. She sees abortion as a necessary service to help protect women of color, and prevent the high rate of out-of-wedlock births, foster children and incarcerated youth of color. Since Roe v. Wade’s institution in 1973, the United States has legally protected a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. Yet, none of those rates she mentions have been reduced–in fact, some of them have increased. You would think close to 40 years of abortion rights would have proven her argument, but apparently not.

Ms. Hutchinson also argues that to use Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger‘s work and writings as a basis  “to vilify abortion, anti-abortion foes of color are actually savaging women’s right to agency.” Ms. Hutchinson even parades out the black leaders who were Sanger’s contemporaries, who backed her work: Dr. Martin Luther King, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, and so on. This feels equivalent to certain Blacks paraded out by news organizations and political parties to prove their cause is just; however, it gives no basis of proof toward the validity of the cause just because certain people of color support it. But, I digress.

As a pro-life Black woman, I have watched this debate on both side for years. As a writer, I’ve seen the massaging of terms and wording on both sides to try to reshape the argument in their favor. Those opposed to abortion have re-crafted the language from “anti-abortion” to “pro-life”, from “crisis pregnancy centers” to “women’s centers” in order to re-frame their point-of-view. On the converse, terms like “family planning”, “reproductive rights”, and “birth control” are being used in the same way, to camouflage the fact that the act of abortion is central to their focus.

And now the latest term of “women’s health care” is being used to support the so-called pro-choice advocacy for wholesale government-funding of abortions and abortifacients.  A position strongly supported by our first Black President, who claims to “respect” religious liberties, even when he continues to trample upon them. Catholic Bishops aren’t buying it, and from their Wall Street Journal editorial, neither are David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Edward Whelan:

President Obama claims to respect Religious Liberties–offers token compromise

WSJ: Birth Control Mandate–Unconstitutional and Illegal.

I took enough women’s studies classes where Ms. Sanger’s goals and writings were presented in a glowing light, to have made up my own mind about her: she was a racist with genocidal intentions wrapped in a pretty package of benevolence.

Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, and believed (as much as Adolph Hitler) in an elite race, and the elimination of any inferior races that would poison the well. Hitler had the Jews, homosexuals, and the infirm on his hit list; Sanger had the “feeble-minded”, poor immigrants, and minorities on hers. Her argument for “birth control” was to work toward the limitation of those inferior elements, so that superior races could thrive. Books like The Pivot of Civilization, and Women and the New Race trumpet these beliefs with brazen authority. Taken on their face, they present logical arguments that are totally antithesis to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for anyone except those she deemed “fit”.

With 17-million (and counting) black babies aborted through the work of Planned Parenthood, the organization Ms. Sanger founded seems well on its way to accomplishing her vision. While the Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, and other supposed black leaders are obsessed with calling anyone who opposes President Obama and his policies a racist, and slapping labels of “Uncle Tom” and “House Nigga” on Black conservatives like Shelby Steele and Congressman Allen West, you hear crickets from these same leaders about Planned Parenthood’s targeting of minority communities under the guise of “family planning” and “women’s health”.

Just as W.E.B. Dubois and Dr. Martin Luther King, were seduced by Margaret Sanger’s benevolent claims to understand and assist in the “Negro problem”, we have our modern-day equivalents advocating and shilling for “women’s reproductive rights” for a number of reasons. Some have drunk the Kool-Aid, others want the media recognition, but many others either want the financial gain (read: campaign contributions) or the votes. So, not much has changed.

Like Sikivu Hutchinson, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues that the term “Black Genocide” is nonsense. Also like Ms. Hutchinson, Ms. Tucker uses ONE pro-life advocate (Johnny Hunter of Life Education and Resource Network-LEARN) as her whipping boy, pointing out how radical he is because he considers abortion a means to wipe out the black race. So extreme!

She builds her own straw man argument with these ridiculous statements:

“Oddly, the most vociferous critics of Planned Parenthood are also the least likely to support plans and proposals that might actually lower the abortion rate — among black women as well as among white and brown women.”

Abstinence education, and women’s centers that cater to ladies with unplanned pregnancies and offer alternatives that don’t involve termination are funded and supported by these critics she talks about. But I guess Ms. Tucker doesn’t consider those viable plans and proposals to getting the abortion rate down.

And then, Ms. Tucker trumpets her biggest fallacy: ” If birth control pills and devices were cheaper and more widely available, more women would use them. Unplanned pregnancies would drop. The abortion rate would decline.”

My young-adult niece would go to parties in Hollywood where they passed out free contraceptive samples and free condoms. When I had no insurance, this Black woman found discounts on my birth control pills. Heck, they pass out free condoms  in schools–so WHAT is Ms. Tucker talking about?

The Guttmacher Institute presented a revelatory report on Abortions in the United States. Just a snippet of their findings:

“Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.” (emphases mine.)

So more than half of abortions sought were by women who used contraception either incorrectly or inconsistently. Ms. Tucker’s treatise has hit bottom, yet she continues to dig.

I am thankful that there is still a percentage of my people who refuse to fall for the twin ruses of “women’s health” and “women’s reproductive rights”. Organizations like The International Coalition of Color for LifeLEARNLife DynamicsThe National Black Pro-Life UnionNational Black Pro-Life Coalition, and hundreds of others, are taking a stand to battle the continued encroachment of deception and lies.

Saysumthn‘s WordPress blog did an awesome video presentation in 2010 highlighting religious and civic leaders, and every day people, who are choosing to stand up for the lives of Black babies. Though a few years old, it is even more relevant in 2012: Black Genocide: African-American Leaders Speak Out.

Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life made a statement opposing the abortion mandate housed in Obamacare. Dr. Alveda King said:

“What really is racist is singling out minorities, who now receive about two-thirds of the abortions in this country, for discriminatory treatment[…]”

 “Those of us who care about the civil rights of all Americans, born and unborn, oppose Obamacare because we oppose the expansion of the most racist industry in America – the abortion industry.”
Black people, where will you stand?




In My Orbit: Happy 2012!

2 01 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year! The Girl found December sweeping her off her feet, with some wonderful Holiday parties, a lot of singing, and a lot of Yoga. Before I knew it, it was January 2, 2012, and time for the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade.

This is something to which I pay little attention. The floats are lovely and all, and I can appreciate the work and dedication each one takes. But parades and pageantry have never been my thing. I’m also very thankful I don’t live in Pasadena’s immediate vicinity–those poor residents have to deal with blocked streets and the hoopla that surrounds such an undertaking for weeks (sometimes months) before the event actually happens. If I did live there, I’d probably go on vacation for the entire month of December; but, I digress….

The 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade caught my attention this year because our old friends of #OWS will be presenting a float at the end of the festivities. From Friday’s Los Angeles Times:

“Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.”

Can you say, “Media whores”? Seriously, a parade that spends and takes in millions, if not billions of dollars, is more a reflection of corporate greed than a hedge fund–no matter how noble, altruistic,  and community-oriented its veneer. Yet, the flailing Occupy “activists” are jumping on the train, even choosing to play nice for the cameras:

“The group says the protest will be ‘G-rated’ and will stick to nonviolence in expressing Occupy’s messages against income inequality and corporate power.”

Whatever. I’m sure it will go over like a lead balloon, right in sync with the whole movement. The Pasadena-Star News decided to do a profile on the Occupy Rose Parade leader’s questionable past.  This past includes petty theft, having his law license suspended, andconnections to the 9/11 Truther movement.

So much for gaining more credibility with the general public. I sincerely hope that the year 2012 will see Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots fade to black.





Illustrating Absurdity

5 10 2011
Illustrating Absurdity

Chicken crossing by Peter Griffin/publicdomainpictures.net

It’s raining in Los Angeles today. The saving grace  is that we probably won’t have any Anti-Wall Street protesters in front of City Hall whining about the “Capitolist” and imperialism. People cancel appointments rather than drive in the rain around here, so do you think they’re going to make their way to a protest? Oh, I think not.

Manhattan has not fared so well, and I’m sure Wall Street and every other working person they have disrupted for the past two weeks are hoping for snow storms to drive out that lot.

You know your movement is whack when George Soros says he “sympathizes with protesters speaking out against corporate greed in ongoing protests on Wall Street[..]” The man who single-handedly funds many Democrat politician’s campaigns and PAC groups? Are you sh@tting me?

Even more absurd is Michael Moore waxing philosophical about this “movement” ad nauseum. This Fat (literally)-cat filmmaker who lives high on the hog off his returns from propaganda films, while railing against the capitalist system that allows him to rake in those very earnings, has always rung false. He’s a tool, but unfortunately, a loud one.

Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon are no better. Say Alec, what’s your annual salary from 30 Rock and all those endorsements, like Capital One?

Now that I’ve expressed my disdain, I’m going to finish an article for my Examiner job so that I can get more virtual pennies. Then it’s off to my other job as a Yoga instructor, where I hope my gas tank lasts to the next pay day.

I might be inclined to protest, but I’m too damn busy trying to earn a living.








%d bloggers like this: